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Little Pink Book: 5 Lessons I’ve Learned About My Dating Preferences from Online Dating

Little Pink Book is a blog series about dating smarter, not harder as an ambitious, Christian, millenial woman. Read the rest of the series here. If you’d like to submit a post to this series, send a pitch here

MMy first foray into online dating was brief, confusing, and disappointing, but I fired up another dating app (not Tinder, probably never Tinder) for round two. This app is different from the last one in that it doesn’t have a daily limit for the number of potential matches you see and allows guys to message girls first.

Round two lasted about three weeks before I needed to back off and focus on other things (hello, deadlines!). I didn’t realize how much time and energy dating takes up. Nevertheless, I learned a lot about who and how I like to date. Here are five of the biggest.

Attraction is Important to Me

This seems extremely obvious, but I think a lot of girls, including me, find reasons to go out with guys we aren’t really into.

Joel* was one of those guys. He was one of the first people I talked to on the app. We talked for a bit about our shared interest in dancing, and once I recommended a place, he invited me to go. Did I want to go dancing? Heck yeah, I did. I love dancing, and the place I mentioned was one I’ve been wanting to go to for years. So, from that point of view, my answer to his invitation was an obvious yes. On the other hand, in looking at this guy’s pictures, I knew I wasn’t going to be attracted to him. But the dancing would be fun, and he seemed like a nice guy (famous last words, bruh). Don’t we all want to meet and date nice guys who treat us well?

When the date rolled around and Joel walked into the restaurant/dance club, I knew I was right. He was really nice! Gentlemanly! Picked up the tab and offered me a ride and everything! But girl, it’s not a good sign when you have to stop yourself from thinking about how cute the drummer in the Latin band is because you have a date sitting across from you.

My lack of attraction to Joel didn’t change as the night went on, and it was uncomfortable. Have you seen salsa? It’s involves a lot of body contact.  It’s sexy. The music is sexy. And as awesome as Latin music is, and as much as I love dancing, getting close to someone you’re not attracted to is not fun.

When the date was over, I felt disappointed because I knew I would have to turn Joel down and possibly hurt his feelings. Who wants to be that person? I also realized that Joel could have spent that time and money on someone who was interested and I could have done the same. Imagine salsa dancing with someone you have chemistry with?

That being said, online dating is a bit of a double edged sword because sometimes, people (especially guys) take bad pictures of themselves and turn out to be much more appealing in real life. Nevertheless, I learned that I can’t force attraction and that if I’m really sure that I won’t be attracted to the person, it’s better to not go out with them, no rationalizations allowed.

I’m Old School and I Like Chivalry

This one really surprised me, because I always considered myself to be one of those tough girls who didn’t need crap like that. But I noticed that I liked it when the guys I went out with held my doors, offered me a ride, called me, helped me with my coat, ordered for me, paid for the date, and just exhibited gentlemanly and chivalrous behaviour. What I like about being treated this way is that it makes me feel, wrongly or rightly, that a guy is considering my needs and what might be helpful to me. And I think the biggest thing is that it makes me feel like a guy is making an effort. I like feeling like my date wants to make a good impression on me.  It’s also in line with how I was raised to think about respect.  As a result, that kind of courtesy and attentiveness is really attractive and something I value. So I’m flying my old-fashioned flag high on this one, because it actually turned me off when guys didn’t do these things.

I Value Connection

Ben* was not a gentleman. He didn’t hold doors, didn’t pay for dates, didn’t offer me rides in the dead of winter, and didn’t even offer to get me a napkin for my drink, which would have required 0.5 effort and 0 dollars. But he still had his good qualities: he was really easy to talk to, highly intelligent, and generally enjoyable for me to be around. I looked forward to talking to him and I felt like I could be myself around him. I didn’t know whether my “gentleman” standards were reasonable in this cold online dating world where Netflix and chill seems to reign supreme, so I agreed to a second date. Ultimately, his likeability couldn’t overcome his lack of gentlemanliness in my books, which was one reason which led me to end things with him. And I’ve since been on enough dates to know that no, chivalry is not dead, and no, I don’t need to relax my standards.

What I found interesting was that even though I went out with guys I found to be more gentlemanly and more physically attractive, I actually missed Ben a little bit after we parted ways. I didn’t miss the others, because even though they treated me better or I found them more attractive, I didn’t feel a connection to them.

This sounds very bird-like of me, so let me end with a disclaimer: I don’t regret ending things.

At the end of the day, I want to date someone I’m on the same page with. I don’t like the nagging feeling of something being off when I’m dating someone who isn’t delivering what I want, no matter how awesome they may be.

Tweet: At the end of the day, I want to date someone I'm on the same page with. I don't like the nagging feeling of something being off when I'm dating someone who isn't delivering what I want, no matter how awesome they may be. http://bit.ly/datingprefs
That being said, what I learned is that connection is really powerful for me, but not enough to overcome a lacking in other things I value, like being a gentleman.

There’s More to Compatibility Than Checking My Boxes

This one was a really weird lesson for me to learn.

When Jason* sent me messages, I got butterflies in my stomach. He always responded quickly (as did I), and messaging him felt easy and effortless. The glimpses of his personality that I could see through his profile were attractive and in talking to him I realized we had similar interests. We shared the same faith and the app said we were highly compatible. His pictures were cute, but when we met in person, I was taken aback at how handsome, stylish, and tall he was. I’m pretty sure other women noticed that too, and they were mad at me.

In addition to being ridiculously good-looking, Jason was also charming and a gentleman. He offered to give me a ride (I declined because I’m not getting in the car of someone I don’t know), ordered for me, paid for everything, helped me with my coat, held the door, helped me to and from my seat, walked me to the bus, and waited with me until it came.

Jason was ambitious and interested in an actual relationship. He checked so many of my “what I want in a man” boxes! And yet, I noticed that we both rushed through the date (we didn’t even finish dinner), I found myself counting down the time to when I could politely leave, Jason kept pushing to leave early, and I noticed that I wasn’t interested in knowing more about him.

When the date ended, I wondered what happened. How could something that seemed so promising have gone so far left? I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I didn’t feel very confident around him, I was awkward, and I got the sense that we looked at life very differently.

Jason was perfect on paper, but there is a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that is there when I’m interested in someone and it was missing. This was a good lesson to learn because I incorrectly thought that once I found everything I wanted in a guy, things would just magically work. #fairytales #fallacies #lies

I reached out to Jason for a second date anyway, because how often do you meet someone who checks all your boxes? He declined, which I expected, but sometimes it’s good to just get closure instead of ghosting each other.

Sharing a Faith is Important to Me

Last, but not least, there is faith. Like politics, it can be controversial, but it shapes our lives in so many ways.  I’m pretty sure some unkind teenager somewhere would call me a Jesus freak, but it is what it is, bruh. Jesus is important to me.  He’s beautiful, kind, loving, and the rock upon which I want to build my life. How am I going to get involved with someone who doesn’t feel the same way?

I knew this going in, but it’s different when you deal with things in a real situation. Going back to Ben, I wanted to find out where he was faith-wise, because his profile didn’t say.

I tried to casually bring it up during one of our conversations, but when that didn’t work, I just honestly asked him. It was a hard thing to talk about because it felt way too serious for someone I’ve only gone out with twice. I’d like to avoid that situation in the future, but I’m glad he obliged me. Basically, he’s trying to figure out what he believes in. I respect that, but also recognize that’s not for me. I get that everyone has their own path, but it’s important for me to share that path with bae.

I don’t want to end up falling for someone who isn’t what I’m looking for. I don’t want to end up in a situation in which I’m either having to compromise on something that’s really important to me or do the heart-wrenching work of ending things with someone I love.

Tweet: I don't want to end up falling for someone who isn't what I'm looking for. I don't want to end up in a situation in which I'm either having to compromise on something that's really important to me or do the heart-wrenching work of ending things with someone I love. http://bit.ly/datingprefsIf I see the train coming, I should get off the tracks, right?

So in the future, I’ll stick to dating people who I know I share a faith with from the beginning. It’ll be less messy that way, and I won’t have to have difficult conversations right away.

Final Thoughts

One thing that I am learning with dating is that I have some responsibility in managing other people’s feelings as well as my own. Hurt feelings are unavoidable in dating, but I do realize that some situations can be avoided entirely. Hopefully, being honest with myself about my preferences will help.

Question: what are your dating preferences?

*all names have been changed

Image via Freestocks.org at Pexels

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4 comments on “Little Pink Book: 5 Lessons I’ve Learned About My Dating Preferences from Online Dating

  1. Still trying to figure that question out, maybe I’ll know soon enough after my purge year. I’m happy you’re still exploring and that you had a generally good time with your dates. It’s sort of exciting meeting someone for the first time, when I did online dating I found out that I liked that chase – I liked the fact that guys were interested in me and that I had quite a few to choose from “I like choices..lol” – I hope things continue to go well for you as you discover what you like/want. Dating is an adventure….

    • Oooh the choices! It feels so good to know you’ve got options! Do I want tall dark and handsome today? Or a more lighthearted and funny guy? Loool it sounds terrible but it’s fun – and we’re all someone’s option so I guess it balances out!

      • LOL!!! Yessssssss….that’s what I’m talking about!! Oh the choices, caramel or white or dark chocolate…umm…lol lol. Yes, you’re right – in the end it always does. Be Careful (that’s the sister coming out of me =) and HAVE FUN!!!

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